Without careful consideration and mindfulness, the holiday season can leave you feeling overextended financially–and what fun are the holidays if you’re stressed out about money and broke by the time the new year begins? So to help you enjoy the season and stay financially wise with your spending throughout it all, here are some ways to spend less during this time of year.
Host a potluck.
Dining out is usually one of most people’s biggest expenses, especially around the holidays. Everyone wants to get together for some sort of holiday dinner celebration, but when you dine out, you end up paying for your meal, a drink, tax and tip, and that can really add up! Instead, take the initiative and plan holiday potlucks for your family and friends. You can choose a theme and have everyone bring a homemade dish. This is a great alternative, as not only does it help everyone save money, it’s also a great way to enjoy each other’s company in a comfortable, intimate setting. Opt for a Secret Santa Gift Exchange Buying gifts for everyone in your family can be so expensive, especially if you have a large family. This year, opt for a Secret Santa gift exchange and have your entire family participate in it. Decide on a budget for the gift exchange–i.e. no more than $25–and have each person select a name out of a bowl. Then, on the day of the gift exchange, you can all reveal who your Secret Santa was and have fun exchanging gifts with one another. This saves you a lot of money because now instead of buying for everyone, you only have to buy for one person.
Use your credit card reward points to pay for airfare.
One of the best ways to save money on travel is to ensure you’re using your credit card rewards or frequent traveler programs when booking your holiday airfare. Seems basic enough, but so many people never use their credit card points—which means they’re leaving money on the table! You can also use websites like www.kayak.com and www.airfarewatchdog.com to track the best times to buy airfare, and sites like www.airbnb.com to find alternative places to stay in your holiday destination city.
Buy gifts on Living Social/Groupon
There are so many great gift ideas on websites like Living Social and Groupon. For example, you can get your girlfriends a spa package, facial, hair blowout, a wine tasting experience and so much more. All you need to do is buy it as a gift and voila, you will have a gift that will be unique and probably save a lot of money as well.
Shop Coupon Sites
Shop sites like Chippmunk which ranks online coupons and deals in over 25 popular shopping categories so you can see exactly how much you’ll save at each store. With 30 extra seconds, you can find a coupon that will allow you to add one more cute item to your cart for the same amount. Chippmunk has partnerships with over 600 leading retailers, many of whom offer exclusive coupons, and unlike other coupon sites, every coupon is verified to work. Their coupon codes take you directly to the store in which you wish to shop and Chippmunk will show you offers from competing retailers on the side, so you’re able to make a truly informed purchase decision.
Plan ahead for next year.
Set up a holiday savings account and begin contributing to it every month so that when the holidays roll around next year, you already have money in the bank to cover expenses. You can start with something as small as $20 a month and then add to it every few months after you review your budget and financial goals for the year. Saving for specific goals, such as the holidays, is so much easier when you can have a clear vision in mind for what you’re saving for, and when you automate your savings for the goal. As you can see, with just a little planning and awareness, this time of year can be enjoyable and easy on your budget. And that’s what I call a successful holiday season!
How do you planning on saving money this holiday season?